In the broadest strokes, the keyword access refers to “the power, opportunity, permission, or right to come near or into contact with someone or something” (OED Online 2021, “access”). This definition highlights the spatial or environmental dimension of access. As disability activists and scholars have argued, questions of access foreground the body’s relation to the built and social environment. Attending to access also highlights the necessity of making public infrastructure—and public life more generally—responsive to a diversity of human bodies and abilities. In architecture and technology, access interventions include wheelchair ramps, widened toilet seats, lever-shaped door handles, Braille lettering, closed-captioning in videos, and universal design. In civil society, policy and legal interventions support equal access to jobs, housing, education, public space, public institutions, art, and culture. In health care, equal access initiatives aim to guarantee all individuals affordable, high-quality, and culturally and linguistically appropriate care, including preventative medicine, emergency care, and mental health support.

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